Facebook’s Oculus Go won’t be getting USB storage support after all, according to Oculus Consulting CTO John Carmack on Twitter.
The Oculus Go is Facebook’s budget VR headset designed for passive media consumption and basic social VR. It launched in May 2018 for $199 for the 32GB version or $249 for the 64GB version (both headsets are $50 off for this Black Friday). It does not have a microSD card slot so this storage cannot be locally expanded.
Another option to expand device storage would be a microUSB stick. Go has a microUSB port, and 128GB microUSB drives can be found on Amazon for about $20.
Three days after the Oculus Go was announced in mid-October 2017, Carmack told a fan that USB storage support “should work” on Go.
When another fan asked about the price of the 64GB model two months before launch, Carmack responded “we intend to support USB storage relatively soon”.
One month after launch a fan followed up on this question to ask for a release schedule, Carmack responded “Not in the update rolling out now, but hopefully the next one.”
Later, in August, Carmack mentioned in relation to USB devices that “storage is coming soon”.
However, this feature never shipped. This month, more than two years after the announcement of Go, Carmack was asked whether USB support was a “broken promise”. He responded by stating “There is a hardware problem that we can’t fix”.
What Went Wrong?
During his annual unscripted keynote at Oculus Connect 5 in September 2018, Carmack spoke of the difficulties in implementing this feature:
“Another broadly requested feature is USB storage- some way to extend the storage from the Go. It’s a little bit of a mixed bag on this where it turns out we do have some hardware limitations (and some software licensing) so this is not the ideal feature we might want to have. But we are going to wind up releasing this, so that you can plug in a little microUSBs. It’s limited to FAT32 support so you’re limited to 4GB files, although you can format it still for very large drives.
But we do have a hardware problem that we have no workaround for, where at low battery levels sometimes plugging in the USB we can’t mount it correctly. It’s not a perfect feature, but I think it’s still worthwhile shipping to users because a lot of people will like this. Although it’s also surprising how much power those little USB keys can draw out of the main battery, so it does take a lot of battery away.”Oculus Connect 5 | John Carmack’s Day 2 Keynote
At the following Oculus Connect, two months ago, Carmack gave a final update on the long awaited feature:
I was pretty shocked at how much power the little USB sticks draw from- just when you plug them in to play a video or something off them. It was over 1 watt for the one that I was checking which is a staggering amount for the tiny little flash drive that’s sitting there. But I think that’s a useful peripheral…Oculus Connect 6 | John Carmack’s Day 2 Keynote